On the morning of May 3, Acton University alumnus, Marcel van Hattem, was awarded the Order of Rio Branco, the highest civilian award in Brazil, by President Jair Bolsonaro. The Order of Rio Branco award, established in February 1963, is named after the Brazilian diplomat, Barao do Rio Branco, and given to “stimulate the practice and deeds worthy of honorable mention,” to “distinguish meritorious services and civic virtues.” Van Hattem was the only congressman from Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil to be honored at the ceremony.
Van Hattem has proved to be one of the most influential leaders in the broad Acton Institute alumni network consisting of more than 8,500 leaders. Since 2011, Van Hattem has experienced a fast rise in Brazilian politics, now serving as a member of the New Party and a Federal Deputy from Rio Grande do Sul. The New Party was formed in 2011 around classically liberal principles, promoting limited government reform at every level. Van Hattem has quickly become a leading voice in the New Party as well as in Brazilian politics generally.
In addition to his political activities in Brazil, Van Hattem has been actively involved in the work of the Acton Institute, attending Acton’s many events around the world. As a six-time Acton University alumnus, Van Hattem has inspired many others to attend or join Acton’s alumni network which now boasts of nearly 100 influential Brazilian leaders working in politics, business, non-profits and churches throughout Brazil.
Van Hattem and Acton’s alumni network in Brazil are working tirelessly to promote a more free and moral society in Brazil. Van Hattem has famously stated, “I do not want to live in another country, I want to live in another Brazil.”
At Acton University 2018, serving as the Master of the Ceremony for one of the four evening plenaries, Van Hattem had this to say about his first experience with Acton seven years ago, to an audience of 1,000+: “Much in my life has changed since my first participation in [Acton University]. I rethought my role in society. I met great and inspiring people from all over the world. And, I was granted additional intellectual support and motivation to defend a free and virtuous society.”
Please join us in congratulating Van Hattem on this great honor. Now is the time that we need to stand with Van Hattem as he works to create “another Brazil. A Brazil that is free, prosperous, democratic, and virtuous.”
The featured photo for this post was taken by Andres Fontana.